Acne is not only a common concern for teenagers but there are many adults living with acne or the scars that can remain after the skin has healed. Not only is acne a concern because of the way it affects the skin, but moderate or severe acne can take a toll on a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
If you are living with acne, then you’ve likely tried many facial cleansers, scrubs, and other products that claim to reduce breakouts. These products can be effective at times, but each patient is unique, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment that works for everyone. The best thing you can do is consult a skin care expert and try different types of acne treatments to find the solution that works for you.
What is Acne?
Acne happens when the pores and hair follicles in the skin become clogged, causing inflammation in the local area. The emergence of acne arises as the tiny apertures within the skin, known as pores, experience congestion due to deceased skin cells and sebum accumulation. The term “acne” refers to different types of skin breakouts that can occur. Common types of acne include whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and even cysts. While acne can affect many parts of the body, it is most common on the face, chest, shoulders, and back. Acne is a problem that can affect people of all ages, but it’s most common in teenagers and young adults. Hormonal changes during this time of life can contribute to the development of breakouts.
In order to understand how to treat acne, you need to know the underlying cause of these breakouts. An overabundance of oil in the skin can mix with dead skin cells and cause a blockage in the pores. As a result, comedones form, which are inflamed pockets filled with oil, dead skin cells, and more. The local inflammation often causes the skin to swell, so the acne is raised above the surface level. Bacteria on the skin also play a role in acne development. The bacteria can trigger an inflammatory response, causing swollen, red, and pus-filled pimples. There are a variety of treatment options for acne, including lotions, gels, and facial treatments. If acne is severe, then a dermatologist might recommend a prescription-strength treatment.
Common Types of Acne?
Several different types of acne can develop. Some people have one type of acne, but it is common for multiple types of acne to develop at the same time. Types of acne include blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, papules, acne rosacea, and cysts. Identifying your acne type is an important step to finding the ideal treatment that will clear the skin.
Whiteheads are common, but the medical term for this type of acne is “closed comedones.” This acne forms as small white or flesh-colored bumps on the skin. The build-up in the pore is not exposed to the air, so no oxidation occurs – which means they don’t turn a dark color like blackheads.
Whiteheads are most often found in areas of the body with a high concentration of oil glands, including the forehead, chin, and face. Squeezing the acne can cause it to burst and release the buildup inside, but it increases the risk of infection and can leave scars.
Open comedones, known as blackheads, are another common type of acne. Similar to whiteheads, blackheads are usually located in areas of the body with a lot of oil glands, especially on the face in the “T-zone” area: forehead, nose, and chin.
The name blackhead describes the appearance of this acne: it takes on a darker color. This change in color occurs because of oxidation that occurs when the open pore becomes clogged and is exposed to the air. The pore is blocked with dead skin cells and oil, and this debris changes to a black color because of oxidation.
Blackheads can be treated similarly to other types of acne with proper skincare routines and facial products specifically designed to clean the pores and reduce the oil buildup.
One type of acne, known as papules, is characterized by small raised and red lesions. They are usually tender and inflamed, but you can’t see a pus-filled head or a visible center.
Not only do papules occur due to a buildup of dead skin cells and oil, but hormonal changes can also contribute to the development of this type of acne.
Since there isn’t a center or visible head, the risk of inflammation and infection is even higher if you pick or squeeze this type of acne. Most of the time, it won’t “pop.” Instead, the inflammation worsens, the acne swells, and it increases the risk of scarring in the future.
What Causes Acne?
When you understand the cause of acne, it’s easier to know the ideal treatments for healing current breakouts and preventing breakouts in the future. There are various factors that can contribute to the development of acne, including increased oil production, hormonal changes, genetics, and lifestyle.
When the hormones are changing, the risk of acne increases. Hormonal changes during puberty often contribute to the development of acne. As the hormones surge, it stimulates the oil glands to produce more sebum. Then, the combination of excess oil and dead skin cells leads to the development of acne.
Excess Oil Production
Oil production is normal and important because these glands help to keep the skin healthy. But if there is an excess in oil production, then it can cause the pores to clog. Different factors can affect oil production, including dietary choices, lifestyle, and genetics. When the oil is overproduced, and the pores clog, it can result in the formation of acne and inflammation in the skin.
Some people find that certain lifestyle factors play a role in their acne breakouts. For example, there are times when dietary changes can reduce the risk of breakouts. Or, seemingly simple habits can influence acne breakouts, such as touching the face throughout the day or going to bed without washing off makeup.
Families can have a genetic predisposition to acne. If family members have acne breakouts, then it’s likely that you have a higher risk of acne too. Doctors and researchers are still trying to understand which genetic factors play a role in acne and other skin problems. Genetic variations can affect hormones, how the skin produces oil, and inflammatory responses within the skin.
Procedures That Remedy Acne
In addition to at-home skincare routines, other procedures and treatments can help with acne breakouts. Usually, the first goal is to stop the current breakout so the skin can heal. Then, it’s important to continue with treatments to prevent breakouts again in the future. The best solution is to consult a dermatologist or aesthetician for personalized recommendations.
AccutaneFind doctors who offer Accutane
This medication is taken orally and is effective for clearing severe acne. Because Accutane is so powerful, it is only recommended when the skin is not responding to other treatments. Accutane reduces oil production and decreases inflammation, which helps to minimize the formation of acne breakouts. It should only be used under close medical supervision.
Acne SurgeryFind doctors who offer Acne Surgery
Acne surgery is commonly known as acne excision or acne extraction. It should only be done by a trained aesthetician or dermatologist. This treatment involves physically removing the comedones (both white and blackheads) or cysts. Specialized tools are used to extract the buildup so the skin can heal.
Acne TreatmentFind doctors who offer Acne Treatment
Other types of acne treatment can be helpful, including topic skincare products that you use at home. Examples include retinoids or benzoyl peroxide. Antibiotics might be recommended in severe cases of acne to treat the underlying infection. Other in-office treatments might include chemical peels, laser therapy, or light therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can certain foods cause acne?
The relationship between acne and diet is controversial because there are varying opinions on this topic. Some patients find that eating certain foods, such as greasy foods, chocolate, or dairy, can increase the risk of acne breakouts. Sugary foods could be a culprit because of the increase in inflammation within the body, which can contribute to the worsening of acne.
But doctors are finding that acne development is much more complex and varies from patient to patient. Only some people will develop acne issues due to diet. The best thing you can do is pay attention to the foods you are eating and see any connections between your diet and acne breakouts. For overall skin health, the general recommendation is to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
How can acne be prevented?
Several lifestyle factors can help you avoid the risk of acne breakouts in the future. Consider your daily skincare routine, as well as habits that might be causing your pores to clog.
The products you are putting on your skin can affect acne breakouts. Only use non-comedogenic products. Skincare and cosmetics will list this detail on the label, which means they won’t clog the pores.
Keep your face clean by washing it both day and night and applying skin-protecting serums and moisturizers. Avoid harsh products or over-scrubbing because these things can irritate the skin. Also, avoid touching your face throughout the day because the oils and bacteria on your hands can contribute to the formation of acne.
What are the most effective treatments for acne?
A variety of treatments are available for acne, and the effectiveness varies depending on the type of acne and a person’s individual results. Most people start with topical treatments, such as over-the-counter gels, lotions, or creams. Certain skincare products can help to unclog the pores and reduce inflammation, such as retinoids, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide.
When these skincare products are ineffective, then prescription medications might be recommended. Stronger topical medications can be used. Or, there are oral options such as contraceptives to balance the hormones or Accutane for patients with severe acne.
Additionally, acne procedures can clear the current breakouts and reduce the risk of breakouts in the future: microdermabrasion, chemical peels, or light therapies help to reduce oil production and exfoliate the skin to open the pores.... Show more.
How long does it take for acne to heal?
The timeframe for acne to clear up depends on the severity of the breakout and individual factors. Mild acne often responds well within a few weeks, but severe acne might require months of treatment before you start seeing results.
The key to success with acne treatment is to maintain consistency. Remember that it takes time to heal. Not only are you clearing the current breakouts, but these treatments also help to heal the skin and open the pores to prevent future breakouts.
For the best results, follow a good skincare regime at home. Then, talk to a dermatologist about other treatments to speed up the healing and reduce the appearance of acne scars, such as chemical peels, laser treatments, and more.